Tag Archives: Okkervil River

Lost Shark Radio #1 – The Paradise Motel, Okkervil River, Explosions in the Sky

I have been swimming in an ocean of great music lately… 2011 has already produced many sparkling gems of albums, so here’s a taste of what has been on high rotation on Lost Shark Radio lately.

The Paradise Motel: I Still Hear Your Voice At Night

This is a darkly romantic album, where loss and distance are always just below the surface. The lyrics are sparse and vulnerable, and much like songwriters such as David McComb, work as fine literature on the page; the instrumentation is ethereal and ominous, building to some heady crescendos. It is a work of complex beauty and rewards repeated listens. 

Okkervil River: I Am Very Far

Front man Will Sheff is one of the finest lyricists currently putting pen to paper. He has the uncanny ability to transform truly dark imagery – A slit throat makes a note like a raw winter wind (The Valley) – into songs that make you want to sing along. The band too are in gut-punching form, building a fiery wall of sound across the album. Here they are live on Letterman performing Rider.

Explosions in the Sky: Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Explosions are undoubtedly, one of the finest exponents of lush guitar/drum based instrumental music. Their compositions are adventurous, reverberating with e-bow haze, harmonising guitar feedback and driving drums. Each track rises out of its almost-silence into blissed out, sonic soundscapes. This could well be my preferred soundtrack to this seemingly cold winter…

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Wake up, it’s Sunday!

If you are struggling today, here’s a hit of Okkervil River from their latest album, I Am Very Far. The day is ahead of you… so come on, take Will Sheff’s advice, Wake And Be Fine.

SpeedPoets is waiting for you…

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The longer you live, the better you get

So said Bob Dylan at the tender age of 27 and indeed, he just keeps getting better! Here’s a link to the Smithsonian’s top 10 Dylan Moments. I am sure many of you out there have your own and I would love to hear about them. My number one is definitely seeing Bob backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers aged 15 at Lang Park. That night is forever in my heart and mind.

I also just had to share another of the BBC tributes… this time a show dedicated to the eternally magnificent, Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. For me, the album has taken on even greater significance with the death of Suze Rotolo earlier this year. On the show, the best of the British Folk Scene reinterpret the album. here’s the playlist:

Blowin’ in the Wind by Seth Lakeman; Girl from the North Country by Thea Gilmore; Masters of War by Martin Simpson; Down the Highway by While and Matthews; Bob Dylan’s Blues by Ewan McLennan; A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall by Karine Polwart; Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right by Ralph McTell; Bob Dylan’s Dream by Martin Carthy; Oxford Town by Coope, Boyes and Simpson; Talkin’ World War III Blues by Billy Bragg; Corrina, Corrina by Cara Dillon with The Scoville Units; Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance by Rory Mcleod; and I Shall Be Free by Rab Noakes with Fraser Speirs.

 So Bob, I hope you are celebrating your 70th in style.

The first day of my forties has been wonderful… my lovely wife presented me with the limited edition box set of Okkervil River’s new album, I Am Very Far this morning and it is just magnificent.

It comes in a wooden box and features a print, hard cover lyrics book, 7″ single of two demos, a letter from Will Sheff, the album on deluxe vinyl and CD. I am going to savour this one…

I also managed to set off the fire alarms at my school today and have the whole place evacuated while cooking potato rosti’s. We discovered the fire alarm in is super sensitive!

And tonight we are off to have a Thai feast at our local restaurant.

Yep, feeling really blessed.

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Left to the Flood: The New Folk XII

There are albums that come into your life that you know will stay with you forever, that etch themselves somewhere deep and continue to reveal themselves with every listen… two such albums have come into my life in the last week: High VioletThe National & True Love Cast Out All EvilRoky Erickson with Okkervil River. Here’s a taste from each of these albums; these songs are sure to make that Autumn sun seem somehow warmer on the skin.

Runaway – The National

‘There’s no, saving anything, now you’re swallowing the shine of the sun…’ The opening line of Runaway is just one of the lines that has lodged its barb firmly in  my psyche. The rest of the lyric is just as unforgettable:

‘What makes you think I’m enjoying being left to the flood?/ We got another thing coming undone/ and it’s taking us over/ We don’t bleed, when we don’t fight/ go ahead, go ahead, throw your arms in the air tonight’

Runaway showcases Matt Berninger’s sweet baritone during one of the album’s softer moments.Throughout the album, Berninger moves from moments of personal catharsis to the blindingly surreal, while the band sound majestic, swooping divinely in and out of Berninger’s lyrical rabbit holes.

I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees – Bloodbuzz Ohio

I’m a confident liar, I put my head in the oven so you know where I’ve been – Conversation 16

Cover me in rag and bone/ and sympathy/ cause I don’t want to get over you – Sorrow

This album is going to be on super high rotation for some time… you can listen to the complete album here, prior to it’s official release on May 11.

True Love Cast Out All Evil – Roky Erickson with Okkervil River

When the sounds of crackling opener, Devotional Number One floated out of my speakers, my spinal fluid began to bubble. It reminded me of the time when I heard the first of the Cash/Rubin collaborations and how I knew then, that I had a lot of catching up to do… that I had somehow in my youth managed to overlook the genius of Johnny Cash. While I have long been a fan of Okkervil River, I have lived almost 39 years on this earth without any knowledge of Roky Erickson… thankfully that has all changed. This is a deeply spiritual album. Okkervil River frontman, Will Sheff’s liner notes (which are worth the price of the album alone) detail Erickson’s well-publicised demons, including a stint in a Texan Psychiatric Hospital and how the voices in his head, caged him for years. It is these experiences that Erickson has primarily drawn on during the writing of this album… but there is no wallowing here. This is an album of hope, redemption and the healing power of music and Will Sheff’s production is absolutely perfect. In the softer moments you can hear Roky’s lungs rattle as he draws breath and in the fuzzed up rocker, John Lawman, you can hear his spittle coat the mic. Albums like this don’t come around often…

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Sunday Morning Songs…

As a light mist of rain settles on the window, here’s a few songs that have been keeping me company lately. Enjoy your Sunday …

 

Fare Thee Well – Robert Fischer (Willard Grant Conspiracy)

WGC main man Robert Fischer here in solo acoustic mode. Word is the whole rambling ensemble are hitting our shores early 2010.

 

1897 – Seaworthy

Recorded in an a decomissioned ammunitions bunker, this album blends the bands atmspheric instrumentation and field recordings. Perfect for late nights and early mornings…

 

Lost Coastlines – Okkervil River

And to finish off… the perfect country-pop of Okkervil River. One of the live highlights of my musical year.

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